Game Review: The Witch’s House

9.0

Story: 10
Playability / Fun Factor: 10
Control: 8
Art: 8
Music: 10
Replay Value: 6

A Japanese puzzle-based horror adventure, The Witch’s House is an absolute necessity for those who might have gotten their hands on a translated version of the Clock Tower SNES title, never released in the United States. It seems that our friends across the pond benefited from this and several other titles that more than likely also didn’t make it over here, as this interest spawned an unholy birth of frightening adventure games created in an engine used for creating role-playing games of all things. Though the graphics might appear cute and cuddly, this game sure as hell isn’t. We start out with Viola, a thirteen-year old lone girl in the forest, not knowing how she got there or why a thick patch of roses impedes her from escaping this dense foliage. Only a lone black cat (which acts as save point) is her only bastion, yet a super-secret can be divulged if she never uses this black cat as a save point throughout her adventure. There’s a small note on the ground, but it doesn’t really say much as it’s more or less a father’s warning to “stay out of the woods, because there’s a witch who likes to eat children.” Alright, we get the Hansel & Gretel reference, but once again – a fairytale this is not.

As we finally get to the house, we see that it looks kind of like a house we might see in a role-playing game, perhaps some harmless civilian household in passing town. However, one can’t shake the feeling that something about this house is very wrong. And that’s when it’s a good time to shut the lights off. Seriously, I recommend that you turn off the lights and plug in the headphones while you play this game. But don’t even touch it at all if you’re faint of heart. Things… happen, so to speak. The inside of the house seems very inviting, despite the fact that there’s a closet which supposedly opens only “when the house returns to normal.” But it certainly looks normal enough, right? There’s a large room up ahead with a note plastered to the wall. Maybe some red paint on the floor from when someone was redecorating, right?

The Witchs House 1

SPLAT!

Maybe it’s not such a good idea to just go right into the center of that room for the note, eh? The walls have eyes and what they don’t like, they CRUSH. Time to face facts, missy. This house doesn’t like you. Everything in this house is out to get you. Trust nothing and keep on your toes at all times. This is the true experience of a haunted house. Did I mention that you can’t escape? Yep. You CAN leave the house. You CAN leave it as many times as you want. But unless you want to be sliced up like Swiss, I wouldn’t even attempt to cross those thorns. So you’re stuck in this nightmare and it’s only going to get worse. So just after you make it through the pancake room, (our special today is meat pancakes) the next puzzle is a bit trickier (and far more frightening.) The lone black cat just sits there, with two doors leading to the right or to the left, with the exit to the bottom. Ya know, just in case little Viola wants a smoke break. At any rate, in one room you’ll notice a pair of scissors (they’re stuck to the table, so you can’t play scissorwoman through the rest of this) a wooden cabinet and a locked door. (Why are all the doors always locked in these damn games?) Since there’s nothing to do here, you’ll have to go to the next room, where behind you is a large clock and a small room with some presents on the floor. Presents? No, it’s not your birthday. But you’ll need to grab the Teddy Bear from one of them as soon as you read what kind of fucked up little psycho lives here in the diary on the desk. So now that you’ve got the bear, you’ll now want to enter that bottom room where you’ll find a basket and a note. There’s also a closet here (which becomes incredibly important near the end of the game) but don’t pay any attention to it for now. A sign in the room reads “BEARS IN THE BASKET.” But there’s only one large Teddy Bear on the basket and bears of course means to add another one. The one you’ve got, right? Well, wrong. That bear just doesn’t fit so you’ll have to make it fit. Head over to the next room, use the scissors on the bear and you’ll notice that it was made of living flesh. Eww. And that’s when bloody bear paws start appearing all over the house. Something is watching you now and it’s very upset at what you’ve just done. But you go into the room anyway and find that the bear now fits in the basket, as a once locked door now swings open. But who opened it I wonder? Well, when you go into the next room, a mad, stomping nightmare-haunting giant murderous Teddy Bear comes out and chases you. Yes, I said chases you. As you will be chased by several things throughout the game, including the final confrontation with the witch herself. Now, you can just re-enter the previous room and it’ll go away. But if you can believe it, (it doesn’t even seem theoretically possible) that Teddy Bear will stomp your body to a bloody pulp in just one hit. It happens so fat that you won’t even notice it. How a plush Teddy Bear can do such a thing is beyond me, but perhaps it’s also made of flesh, which would also make sense. (Believe me; I’ve been pondering over this for days now.) And then when you finally go through the door, there’s a large banquet table and…

The Witchs House 2The Witchs House 3

That’s a good description of just some of the puzzles and monstrosities that you will face in this house. You’ll encounter many interesting puzzles which include everything from frogs and tightropes to uprooting flowers and playing librarian. There are also plenty of little goodies hidden about the house if you search around and look deeply at everything. You’re an uninvited guest, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun! The Witch’s House is a short adventure that you can beat in two hours or ten minutes if you know what you’re doing, but it’s a free night terror that should even prick the hair on the back of the next of the most fearless human being. Even barbarians might look behind them in a dark room after playing through this one. The game has been heavily updated to fix some of the previously tougher portions, and the translation has been done with wonderful respect to the original Japanese version. Rest assured, you haven’t played anything like this one and I wish that they had more games of this type back in the early console days. I don’t think horror is explored enough in the video game genre, and zombies and vampires just don’t cut it. It’s been a while since a game truly frightened you and combined with its cutesy graphics, it’s the kind of thing that might make your skin crawl. Because if cutesy things are chasing after you in the attempt to enact a slaughtering worthy of Cannibal Corpse, then you know there’s something deeply twisted about this title. The game has two endings and one small tidbit if you finish it without saving. The normal ending is quite bland, but the true ending is well… you’ll just have to play it for yourself to find out. The small tidbit further explores the true ending (which will leave you with more questions than answers.) All in all, if you’re looking for free fear that you can wrap up in the span of one night so that you can get to work on time the next morning, then look no further than The Witch’s House.

And make sure to use that run button…

Experience the terror here: http://www.vgperson.com/games/witchhouse.htm

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